July 30, 2007

Fisheries Act violation nets $75K in penalties for habitat destruction

KAMLOOPS, BC-A total of $75,000 in penalties have been levied against a company, Thompson River Farm, and two individuals who were found guilty of violating section 35(1) of the Fisheries Act for altering, disrupting and destroying fish habitat on a property in Kamloops. In April 2002, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) officers responding to a complaint from the public found construction work being carried out on a property about 18 km east of Kamloops, on the north side of the South Thompson River. Contractor Kenneth Ancell was operating heavy machinery to remove trees, shrubs and grasses along the water and to re-contour the ravine banks on the property. He had been hired by Ronald Rhodes, who was living on the property at the time and was a director of Thompson River Farm, which owned the property. About 1,000 square metres of land was being excavated and the investigating officers determined that about half of this was in an area that flooded each spring during the high-water period, providing a valuable refuge every year for juvenile salmon migrating and/or living in the area between May and October. The investigators also found that not only had about two-thirds of the construction work been done on neighbouring property without permission, the excavation activity extended down from the top of bank to within one metre of the stream bed. This was in violation of a restrictive covenant on the property prohibiting any work within 30 metres of the top of bank. Upon conviction, Ancell was fined $15,000, Rhodes was fined $30,000 and Thompson River Farm was fined $25,000. Rhodes and the company were also ordered to pay $5,000 to restore the area to productivity.

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